John Betjeman Award

“Places of worship are… the history of English art displayed in living form…” - Sir John Betjeman

SPAB are now inviting entries for its annual Award given in honour of Sir John Betjeman: writer, architectural historian, conservation campaigner and a member of SPAB’s Committee from 1954-1977. The closing date is 25 February 2014

The Award

The Award is given to celebrate excellence in the conservation and repair of places of worship of any faith in England and Wales. It recognises and rewards the highest standards of conservation craftsmanship and the winning project is publicised as an example to others of good practice. The Award takes the form of a scroll featuring a specially commissioned print by John Piper of the interior of Inglesham Church, a building much loved by Sir John Betjeman. The Award will be presented at the SPAB’s AGM in July 2014.


The Award is made for the repair or conservation of the fabric, fittings or furnishings of historic churches, chapels or other faith buildings in England or Wales, which remain in use for worship. However, cathedrals of any denomination are not eligible. It is not essential that the building is listed as being of architectural or historic interest. The age or architectural significance of the building is less important than the quality of the repair.


The Award is made to the place of worship and not to any individual responsible for the work. It celebrates the project, the building, and the community that cares for it. The Award is given for specific repair to, or conservation of, a single element of the building, rather than a general programme of works. Repair work of any scale is eligible, but it must be to the fabric of the building (e.g. roof, tower, wall, floor, window) or to a significant item of fixed internal fitting or furnishing (e.g. screen, monument, tomb, pews, pulpit). Work to enlarge or extend a place of worship, to rearrange its internal space, or to alter or adapt its fittings or furnishings is not eligible. The work must have been completed in the previous 18 months (i.e. between September 2012 and February 2014).

Judging Criteria

The judges will be looking for work carried out in the last 18 months which is firmly based on, and exemplifies, the principles of conservative repair advocated by the SPAB since 1877. The judges will be looking to see:
  • A statement of need, setting out a reasoned argument for carrying out the repair or conservation.
  • An explanation of how problems were analysed and how the work carried out responded to them (e.g.what options were considered; what methods were chosen and why).
  • The appropriateness and honesty of the solutions adopted, including how the work was designed and detailed, and how materials were selected and used.
  • The extent to which the loss of original fabric was avoided or minimised during the work, and how.
  • The quality of the craftsmanship and materials used.
  • How work in progress was monitored and what records were made of the project.
  • How far the work respected and protected the history and integrity of the building.

Enter now

Use the entry form to tell us about your project. Please give a brief description of the project and the work carried out, and include photographs (12 minimum, 24 maximum) showing the project before, during and after the work.

The form should be signed by the incumbent or church warden for Anglican buildings, by the priest for Roman Catholic buildings, by the minister or an elder for Non-Conformist buildings, or by their equivalent in other faiths.

A panel of judges appointed by the Society’s committee of Guardians will assess the entries. They may ask for more detailed information, such as copies of professional reports or drawings, to help them select a shortlist. They may also wish to visit shortlisted buildings, along with a representative of the entrant. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Winner(s) and shortlisted entrants may be asked to submit (without fee) a 1500 article for the SPAB Magazine. To enter please complete the entry form and return it by post to The SPAB, Spital Square, London, E1 6DY or by email with attachments to Entrants might find it helpful to refer to the information sheet The Purpose of the SPAB when considering the judging criteria. The closing date is 25 February 2014.

Previous Award winners, images left to right: Beeston-next-Mileham Church, Norfolk; Beeston-next-Mileham Church, Norfolk (architectural drawing); All Saints, Necton, Norfolk